Exercising After Surgery: Your Tummy Tuck Recovery Timeline

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Abdominoplasty, which is more commonly known as the tummy tuck, is a major procedure, so it’s important to take the recovery process seriously. Following the steps given by your plastic surgeon means that your recovery goes smoothly and safely. If you’re living an active lifestyle, it can be difficult to take some downtime after surgery. If you’re looking to get back to your routine, here’s a rough guide to what you can expect from the timeline.

The Initial Recovery

Immediately following the procedure, you’ll feel some pain and discomfort in your abdomen. You’ll want to rest throughout this period, since taking it easy is the best thing you can do for yourself. This will give your body time to start the healing process. 

After the first two weeks or so, it will be important to start moving around a little more, though you still don’t want to push yourself too hard. Even though you may feel better, it’s important to remember that it will take up to a full year for your abdominal tissue to completely heal. This means your abdominal tissue will be weaker than it was before the procedure. Typically, it will be half as strong after two months and will regain 70% of its normal strength six months after the procedure.

Getting Back to a Physical Routine

You should be ready to start a light exercise routine after the first two to three weeks. This may involve walking on flat surfaces or using a stationary exercise bike. By the two month period, you can engage in most types of physical activities, although you should still avoid doing sit-ups and crunches. For exercises that put more pressure on the abdomen, you should wait a minimum of five months. After the first four to six weeks of recovery, you should be able to engage in low-impact cardio workouts. Before engaging in these activities, discuss your exercise plans with your plastic surgeon. If part of the surgery was hernia repair or muscle tightening, you may need to wait a little longer. 

A tummy tuck reshapes your stomach and lifts it to a healthier position, so tearing your sutures should be avoided. Taking things slowly can help you build up a little muscle without taking risks with your health. For this reason, you shouldn’t plan to resume your regular physical activities until you have been through a minimum of six to eight weeks of recovery.

Later, you should plan on rebuilding and strengthening the muscles in your abdomen. After you have been in recovery for 12 to 18 weeks, you can start engaging in resistance training exercises to help strengthen the abdominal muscles. This is also a good time to start doing crunches again. 

You should draw out a workout schedule that you can follow throughout your recovery. It should look something like this:

  • Week 2 – Daily walks
  • Weeks 4 through 6 – Low impact cardio (walking, bicycling, etc.)
  • Weeks 6 through 8 – More moderate cardio (swimming, jogging, etc.)
  • Weeks 12 through 18 – Begin resistance training (lifting weights, crunches, etc.)

Following this routine will keep you motivated without letting yourself overwork your body. If you overdo your workouts, you may experience swelling and increased pain, which may indicate there are complications with your recovery process. If this occurs, see your plastic surgeon immediately. Following your surgeon’s instructions will help you heal better while also allowing you to reintegrate exercise into your daily routine. 

Schedule a Consultation

If you’re thinking about undergoing a tummy tuck, discuss your options with the professionals at Pure Plastic Surgery. During your free consultation, Dr. S. Alexander Earle and his staff will answer any questions you may have about the procedure and evaluate your specific needs. This will help you determine if abdominoplasty is right for you.